Can Recovering Alcoholics Eat Food Cooked with Alcohol?
Alcoholics often wonder if it's safe to eat food cooked with alcohol. After all, alcohol is used to cook many foods: pasta sauces, chocolates, jams and even cakes. Recovering alcoholics are often faced with the question, is it safe for me to consume this food or not?
Cooking Food With Alcohol and Temperature
We've all heard people say that the alcohol itself cooks off during heating and therefore it will not have a chemical effect on you if you eat, for example, fish with a sherry-based sauce. But alcohol does not all cook off: the alcohol retention in food depends on the method in which it is cooked and the type and amount of alcohol used. Of course, some recipes, such as certain salad dressing recipes, don't involve heating at all, and then the alcohol content is unaffected.
Even Cooked Alcohol Can Be Triggering for Recovering Alcoholics
Some foods can be addiction triggers for recovering alcoholics even if they have negligible alcohol content. Personally, I try to avoid foods and beverages that remind me of alcohol. Slight fermentation can be enough for me to have a visceral memory of drinking alcohol--and that's not something I want to encourage. Of course, ultimately everyone must decide for themselves what does and does not cause a problem for them when it comes to cooking with alcohol or alcoholic beverage-flavored food.
Certain foods I will eat at certain times but not others. For example, many recipes I like call for rice wine vinegar. It smells strongly alcoholic and I will not consume it raw, but I will use it for some cooked recipes. Even at that, I reduce the amount that the recipe calls for.
Foods Cooked With Alcohol You May Not Know About
Here is a list of foods , cooked and uncooked, with alcohol that we, as recovering alcoholics, may wish to be cautious about:
- All wine vinegars
- Cooking wines
- Sauces: bearnaise, bordelaise, many pasta sauces and some barbecue sauces
- Dessert glazes and compotes
- Tiramisu, bananas foster, cherries jubilee
- Beer bread, beer-battered fish and chips
- Liquor-filled chocolates
- Champagne-flavored jams
- "Non-alcoholic" beer and wine (which contains trace amounts of alcohol)
Video About Eating Foods Cooked With Alcohol
What are your experiences with eating foods cooked with alcohol in alcoholism recovery?
Lesley, K. (2015, April 13). Can Recovering Alcoholics Eat Food Cooked with Alcohol?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2015/04/can-recovering-alcoholics-eat-food-cooked-with-alcohol
Author: Kira Lesley
Thank you for your comment and question. No, I don't think you have ruined the length of your sobriety, but I understand your concern. I've had experiences that are similar. What I've learned is that it's okay to ask how things are made and politely decline them if they are made with alcohol. Most people who are not in recovery don't even think about the fact that eating foods that contain alcohol can be risky for those of us who are in recovery, it's something that isn't even on their radar.
I would let the situation you experienced go and just be aware in case it ever happens again.
I hope you have a safe, sober New Year!
Well of course I "can"...but I know where I've been.
I've been as low as I ever want to go ; .... lonely, demoralized, isolated and totally utterly hopeless.
I've never met a food that was so important that I'd risk my years of sobriety to eat it . I have no idea what teeny tiny cells in my brain chemistry would be triggered - we know that alcoholics have altered brain patterns.
Years ago, my sister in law who I'd never met brought Tiramiso to our gathering. I mulled it over a moment ...oh no, what if she's insulted that I'm not having her dessert ?!... then I remembered I'm raising 2 children as a clean and sober mom...among a million other gifts of sobriety ....who the heck cares about a serving of dessert !!!
Congratulations Kira !
I don't write for HealthyPlace anymore, but I still received a notification that someone had commented on this post. Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that phrasing the question with "can" is a bit beside the point. Perhaps I should have said "should," but that word has its own problems too. Some comments on here mention fruit juice and dijon mustard. I did not know about dijon mustard, but I tend to go with whether I find something triggering or not. I don't really care for mustard often, so that's not a big problem for me. I have run into a tiramisu issue before though, because sometimes it's made with alcohol and sometimes it isn't! I think you were wise to realize your sobriety is so much more important than perhaps accidentally hurting someone's feelings. It feels so hard in the moment to do that though sometimes. I still eat things that involve vinegar, but I avoid wine and beer sauces. I've also found it's popular to put alcohol into ice creams, and I avoid those too because I do, in fact, find it triggering. I don't know whether any brain chemical is altered or not, but if I taste something that reminds me of drinking alcoholic beverages, it disturbs me, so I avoid it. Congratulations to you as well!
I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this information together.
I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and
commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
Why can't manufacturers of these desserts use flavourings instead? Not just for the benefit of recovering alcoholics and those with allergic reactions to it but in the case of children who like these desserts and anyone who cannot have alcohol for any other reason such as religious beliefs?
I looked up the label online for Tesco's caramel panna cotta, but I don't know how high the alcohol content is. One thing you hear frequently is that it does not matter if the alcohol is cooked off and rendered ineffective. For me, this is not true. I find the smell of alcohol to trigger some sort of memory, if not craving, so why would the taste be any different?
Thank you for your comments. I am especially interested in how different countries handle these things. Traveling abroad can be particularly tricky. A few years ago my family traveled to Ukraine, and there the sale of fermented drinks that we Americans would consider alcoholic is legal for all ages.
It is important to check medications as well. Many cough medicines have alcohol. I found that Kroger produces one that contains no alcohol. Watch out even for cold remedies, Zicam, for example. There it was. ALWAYS ask a pharamcist if you are concerned.
Since I had not intended to ingest alcohol, I am not going to reset my sobriety date or worry about this. I am not happy, for sure, but it happened and I am now making the right decisions.